Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Warrior Culture 101

This post is in reponse to a comment made by Molaviis Fromm on my last blog entry, which you can see in it's entirety here or read just below in red italics:

The US society needs warriors like it needs a hole in the head. Empires need warriors. Republics need citizens who can form a good sight pattern, perhaps fire a mortar, know basic first aid, perhaps mix some ingredients to make something go boom at the appropriate time and place, but most importantly are capable of critical thinking.

It seems to me that people who sell a warrior culture are trying to sell canals 30 years after the railroad has been developed. This warrior culture has wrapped itself in so much disinformation that those who perpetuate it fool themselves as well as impressionable young people. Warrior equals Samurai.With out scientists Americas warriors would be much redder in the face. Whether it would be from blood or embarrassment is hard to say.

The best analogy is that Americas warriors are the Sopranos of the planet. Ok Tony's psychologist was secretly pleased about what Tony did to the man that raped her. None the less it is perfectly clear that she totally detests him and everything that he stands for and will make every effort to reform him. The fact that Tony may now and then do a good deed does not make him a good person.Especially when those good deeds are done to further the aims of a continuing criminal enterprise. Many of my fellow Americans say that America does not wish to dominate other countries. Hhahahahahaha what a crock of propaganda bullshit. If you want an example of a country that does not try to dominate other countries look at Ireland or Finland. The US is about the worst example in that regard.

If you wish to personally discuss this issue with me you can find me at US Army Garrison Schinnen Netherlands, or AFNORTH Brunssum Netherlands. Perhaps you can help me understand why a gay or lesbian person would fight to stay in the service of the 21st Century US mercenary occupation forces.Now you can not delete my comments and then say that you defend free speech, or can you? OK, it is illegal for someone writing an opinion to give their rank and branch of service. I can say that LTC Fern O. Sumpter, Commander, Schinnen Army Garrison, has been a great inspiration to me.I only hope that I can return the favor.Curt KastensAFNORTH, Joint Forces Command ID Number 122234

To: Molaviis
From: America's 1st Sgt.
Re: Your Recent comment on Castra Praetoria

According to you, republics need only citizens with a passing familiarity of shooting skills, heavy weaponry, and enough knowledge of chemistry to concoct some homemade explosive. Frankly, that sounds like your average Al Queda cell.

You also say the most important characteristic is they be capable of critical thinking. This could be the only thing I might agree with you on.

Let's define warrior first: A person engaged or experienced in warfare; soldier. A person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness. One who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause, or conflict.

Now when you have a pest control problem do you call someone who has a passing interest in mixing insecticide chemicals or do you call someone engaged or experienced in vector control; a professional exterminator? Generally, I find when a professional isn't put on the job, the enterprise will end in disaster.

So when it is time to wage war we can agree it should be waged by someone with some proficiency in combat arms.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with being a citizen soldier; simply do your tour and move on with your life. I am all about that. It doesn't make them any less a professional while they are in the service though.

You claim warrior culture has wrapped itself in disinformation, but gave no examples of this. "Warrior equals Samurai." Well, yes, it can. Samurai is derived from a word meaning servant or one who serves. I don't think it is wrong to perpetuate or impress on young people the idea of service to something other than themselves is anything other than noble.

Although technology is a great force multiplier, it is not what wins battles. The American armed forces and other Western armies have had success in war not because of scientists, but for other reasons which I don't have the time to get into. Victor Davis Hanson has written a great book on the subject called Carnage and Culture.

You equate the professional American warrior with a fictitious criminal organization comprised of thugs, thieves, and other undesirables. The difference between a thug and a professional warrior? The thug is completely self oriented, anything he does is justifiable in his eyes because it furthers his own agenda. The warrior is other oriented. His agenda is not about himself, but those to his immediate left and right; to his unit; his society. His actions may not be justifiable, if they violate the ethics and values of his society or organization. Tony Soprano would never have made it in the Corps. His fundamental character flaws would not have been tolerated by his fellow Marines or the Corps, institutionally. Tony, here's your Bad Conduct Discharge; thank you for playing.

Many of your fellow Americans say America does not wish to dominate other countries? I have never said that. It certainly has never appeared here on the august pages of Castra Praetoria. As a matter of fact, I am all about dominating anyone and everyone who has shown they are a threat to American lives and society.

The U.S. is the worst example in regards to dominating others? As opposed to Iran? North Korea? China?

Why would a gay or lesbian person stay in the service? I don't have the faintest idea, but they do.

Finally, you label the U.S. military as mercenaries. A mercenary, according to the Geneva Convention, is someone "motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party." For the most part we who consider ourselves professionals (in the armed forces of a sovereign nation) pretty much hate on mercenaries. I'm talking about your Blackwater, Ageis, and what have you. They aren't doing what they do for the same reasons we are. A mercenary is not governed by the principles of his society or institutional values.

But what are the core values of the professional warrior culture that you rail against? Why, I'm glad you asked. Taken right off www.marines.com

Honor: Marines are held to the highest standards, ethically and morally. Respect for others is essential. Marines are expected to act responsibly in a manner befitting the title they’ve earned.

Courage: Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to face fear and overcome it. It is the mental moral and physical strength ingrained in every Marine. It steadies them in times of stress, carries them through every challenge and aids them in facing new and unknown confrontations.

Commitment: Commitment is the spirit of determination and dedication found in every Marine. It is what compels Marines to serve our country and the Corps. Every aspect of life in the Corps shows commitment, from the high standard of excellence to vigilance in training.

I suppose that the above is just more sewage pouring into impressionable young minds. Horrifying!

Here’s some more foolishness we try to perpetuate:

Leadership Traits

Justice - Giving reward and punishment according to merits of the case in question. The ability to administer a system of rewards and punishments impartially and consistently.

Judgment - The ability to weigh facts and possible solutions on which to base sound decisions.

Dependability - The certainty of proper performance of duty.

Integrity - Uprightness of character and soundness of moral principles; includes the qualities of truthfulness and honesty.

Decisiveness - Ability to make decisions promptly and to announce them in clear, forceful manner.
Tact - The ability to deal with others without creating offense.

Initiative - Taking action in the absence of orders.

Endurance - The mental and physical stamina measured by the ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress and hardship.

Bearing - Creating a favorable impression in carriage, appearance and personal conduct at all times.

Unselfishness - Avoidance of providing for one's own comfort and personal advancement at the expense of others.

Courage - The mental quality that recognizes fear of danger or criticism, but enables a man to proceed in the face of it with calmness and firmness.

Knowledge - Understanding of a science or an art. The range of one's information, including professional knowledge and an understanding of your Marines.

Loyalty - The quality of faithfulness to country, the Corps, the unit, to one's seniors, subordinates and peers.

Enthusiasm - The display of sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of duty.

Leadership Principles

• Know yourself and seek self-improvement.
• Be technically and tactically proficient.
• Develop a sense of responsibility among your subordinates.
• Make sound and timely decisions.
• Set the example.
• Know your Marines and look out for their welfare.
• Keep your Marines informed.
• Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.
• Ensure assigned tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished.
• Train your Marines as a team.
• Employ your command in accordance with its capabilities.


I can see where it would really rub some the wrong way to try and actually live up to and mold others to the attributes listed above. Concepts like personal accountability are rather unpopular these days, I get it. But that is what we are as a 21 Century warrior culture. Do all Marines live up to these standards? No, that is why we have the Uniform Code Of Military Justice. We also have a saying: If everyone could do it, it wouldn’t be the Marines.

Somewhere you picked up that being a warrior makes you morally corrupt. Not sure where that comes from. But you know what? Don’t take my word the Marine Corps actually stands for something noble and good. The following comes from an article written by Hunter C.S. Armstrong about his experience with Marines

"...there is the requirement that the constituents have the ability to fight and, just as important, are knowledgeable of the appropriate time for and responsibilities that come with fighting. They train for reasons that ultimately come from within and fight for reasons dictated by necessity and social responsibility. Similarly, with the Marines I met in Okinawa, ethics played a huge role in their identity as warriors. A moral system produces a cohesion and continuity within the team and professionalism in the execution of their work."

And…

"The aspects that mark the distinction between soldiers and warriors can be put into two areas that are at the root of their professionalism: capability and responsibility."

I fail to see how an organization rooted in an ethical, moral ideal which makes itself accountable for its actions is somehow dishonorable and a vehicle for disinformation and incapable of critical thinking. If anything, America needs more people who represent those ideals. That is why the Marine Corps puts great emphasis on returning great citizens back to the communities they came from.

Do I think you will be enlightened by my response?
Really that’s doubtful.
No, I do not wish to discuss this issue with you personally.
You’ve already made up your mind; why bother?

Could I delete your comments and still say I defend free speech? Absolutely! This is my blog and I’ll do as I please here thanks. You can start your own site and say anything you like. A lot of people do and I support it. THAT is free speech.

Hopefully, this has been an informative introduction to what a warrior culture is really about.

Semper Fidelis,

America’s 1stSgt

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Don’t get pissed! Reenlist!

Above we have Corporal Byrnes who recently reenlisted in the world’s finest, United States Marine Corps.

Funny thing about young Marines; sometimes they don’t “get it” until they actually commit themselves personally and professionally to our warrior culture. During their first enlistment they mostly gripe and moan about how they are tired of people telling them what to do and can’t wait to get out and grow their hair long. The idea that you can get a job on the outside and not have someone tell you what to do tickles me to no end and I never get tired explaining the concept that those who do not have a boss usually don’t have a paycheck either. The hair bit I can identify with though; I plan to spend my first 30 days of retirement not shaving.

Something happens to the Marine who recommits himself for another hitch though. I’m not talking about the ones who do it for an outrageous bonus or other bribery that some feel they are entitled to for reenlisting. I’m talking about young Americans like Cpl Byrnes who sported a mustache and pushed the limits of regulation haircuts right up until the moment he signed his name for another four years of honorable service.

When pressed about his new motivated look he responded that since he reenlisted he figured it was time to grow up and start acting like a Marine. Bless his heart.

UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

CERTIFICATE OF REENLISTMENT

Be It Known That

Corporal Byrnes

has been accepted for reenlistment in the United States Marine Corps.
Your reenlistment reflects uncommon devotion and loyalty to your country and to the Corps.
It is this special kind of commitment that makes the Corps unique and respected throughout the world.
The Corps is proud to have you in its ranks.


After the reenlistment Marines again take the oath of enlistment again. There have been reenlistments go underwater, in the air, while skydiving, at notable monuments the world over. Cpl Brynes is a motor transport operator and chose to take his oath from the back of a 7-ton truck. Administering the oath is his platoon commander:

Oath of Enlistment
I, (name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

Daddy’s babies are all growing up! *sniffle!*

Semper Fi,

America’s 1stSgt

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Heard in the clear...

Some of the best lines I have ever heard were uttered right here in Iraq during deployment. I often kick myself for not actively writing many of these down as soon as I hear them. You really can’t make up some of the things you hear coming out of the human mouth.

A special prize goes to anyone who can figure out which one of these was spoken by America’s 1stSgt himself. Don’t be fooled, some of these sound like something I might say, but unfortunately, I can’t claim that I did.

“They’ll never have a space program until they learn to use toilet paper.”

“If it weren’t for Catholic school girls, we wouldn’t have Hooters.”

“The good thing about the Army being here is that they gym isn’t as crowded.”
(Referring to all the Army units coming in to replace their Marine counterparts so we can go kill Taliban.)

“They all should have been aborted.”

“These guys are clearly idiots.”
(The two statements above were made in reference to Americans it must be noted.)

“Can you hear me when I’m not talking?”

“I hear the word ‘roster’ and I just get pissed.”
(Rosters, and the ridiculous number of them that we have to maintain, could be the subject of its own post. And no, that was not a clue.)

“My whole day is occupied with looking out for the best interests of people other than myself.”

“The only way I ever want to come back to Iraq is to supervise the cleanup of the radioactive ash.”

“I tell you what, there ain’t nobody in Al Queda doin’ no 4 minute Fran.”

“Hope is not a COA (course of action).”

“Ain’t no sick call in the Taliban!”

"There is no problem that can't be solved by stepping on someone's neck."

"Brute force and ignorance will get the job done every time."

So, any takers?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Martial arts training: Your manhood can be held suspect…

I may have mentioned previously that in Marine Corps culture physical capability is a measure of credibility. This makes sense, if you consider that in our occupation, if you have to sprint down the street with 100lbs of equipment wrapped around you while engaging evil doers in a running gun battle, it sure is comforting to know your guys will still be nearby squeezing off accurate rounds instead of blowing chow all over their boots 200 or more meters behind you.

Among the many yardsticks we have is the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. The program is rather rough and tumble. Those who wish to be held in higher regard tend to seek out instructors with a reputation for “destroying bodies.” I mean really, would you want to take throat punching lessons from someone you thought was milquetoast?

Here is a recent e-mail exchange between two of my Marines, I’ll let you guess which of them is a recent graduate of the Martial Arts Instructor Course:

From: Cpl K
Sent: Wednesday, September 09, 2009 3:40 PM
To: Cpl H
Subject: DESTRUCTION
Importance: High

UNCLASSIFIED


STEVE!

There will be MCMAP today! 1600!

SEMPER FIDELIS

Respectfully,
Cpl K

From: Cpl H
Sent: Wednesday, September 09, 2009 3:42 PM
To: Cpl
K
Subject: RE: DESTRUCTION

UNCLASSIFIED

I’m not gonna make it today, I gotta get some stuff done before I leave. Go ahead, call me a bitch, I know you want to.

v/r,
Cpl H

From: Cpl K
Sent: Wednesday, September 09, 2009 3:49 PM
To: Cpl H
Subject: RE: DESTRUCTION
Importance: High


UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr. Weaksauce,

Thank you for your recent message. We were disappointed to learn of your current stance regarding your commitment to the MCMAP program. Unfortunately we cannot accept your answer, and send this letter as a requirement to attend prescribed training. Should you have any problems, please feel free to
contact our Human Resource Department(
http://www.wedontcare.com/ or 1.888.YOU.SUCK). Thank you again for your business, and we look forward to
serving you in the future.

Sincerely,

MCMAP HR DEPT


Cpl H was pretty much called girls' names all day. And these are my administrators! I love my guys.


Semper Fidelis,

America’s 1stSgt

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thoughts on 9/11

It has been suggested some folks might be interested in my thoughts about what happened on this infamous date. I hadn’t even thought of posting anything on the subject at all quite frankly.

I can tell you I don’t feel hatred or righteous anger or any of that business. Of course, I did not know anyone who was killed that day either. I have known a number of fallen since then but it has never kindled in me a desire for revenge. In my opinion there is no room to get emotional in my line of work as it simply becomes a hindrance and could get you killed.

But I am an American fighting man who has pledged his professional service to his nation and will say this: if anyone or any group cares to make themselves a threat to the society I have sworn to protect, then I am more than ready to eliminate said threat in any clime or place.

Semper Fidelis,
America’s 1stSgt
United States Marine Corps
Keeping the wolf at bay since 1775.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Awards write ups take their toll…

As we prepare for our return, award write ups become a focus of effort for the company. When it is time to do awards, a number of things happen:

1. When the OICs are asked who they intend to submit for an award they immediately turn in a copy of their personnel roster. "Oh really? So because he managed to show up on time for work he rates a medal, sir? That must have been really difficult considering out in the desert Marines have nowhere else to go."

2. Suddenly the awards process is a popularity contest. “Sir, just because you like the Marine doesn’t mean he deserves a medal.”
“But he does a good job.”
“Yes, as do all Marines.”

3. We discover that a college education does not necessarily guarantee a mastery of the English language. As a matter of fact, I have discovered officers are the worst writers I have ever come across. Here are some examples:

“… has displayed exceptional leadership thought this deployment.” I didn’t realize the deployment was thinking about anything.

“For heroic achievement…” Really? How much heroic achievement could have occurred in a deployment where there was no combat action?

I have Lieutenants who write whole sentences a paragraph long, misspelling their Marine’s name every time it appears in the citation.

It makes me wonder what in the world they are teaching in our universities these days. I know they teach colloquialisms: “…go to guy…thinking outside the box…fire and forget weapon…unparalleled (fill in the blank)…”

My favorites are awards that read like a job description: “Sir, so he came to work every day and stacked boxes?" WOW!

4. No one knows what their Marines actually accomplished. “Sir, how many patrols did he go on? How many vehicles did he conduct maintenance on? How many thousands of dollars of equipment did he embark? What effect did this have on the Battalion’s mission?

5. Eventually, I must restrain my Company Commander from committing acts of violence against his fellow officers. Some of the submissions are so inane that I have to take his ammunition away. My CO finally got so fed up between awards foolishness and other radioactive stupidity I have mentioned previously, he began writing his own award citation:

PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT IN THE SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTIES WHILE SERVING AS Commanding Officer, Headquarters and Service Company,
3D Battalion, 3D Marines, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) from



1 April 2009 to 4 October 2009.

Captain P displayed extreme restraint from not emptying his M9 service pistol into the monitor of his computer after almost daily data connectivity and storage issues.

He was able to TRANSLATE the undecipherable ramblings of six commissioned officers in their twenty-five award Citations submissions. This showed a true testament to his devotion to his Marines, by preventing these awards from an almost certain rejection by the awards board.

Captain P’s devotion to his Marines was present in his near tyrannical rantings of the foolishness of Marriage for first term Marines. Even though this sound advice was not taken, Captain P again assisted Marines in the labyrinth of legal requirements for these same Marines to negotiate a divorce; most within
six months of marriage.


CAPTAIN P’S INITIATIVE, PERSEVERANCE, AND DEVOTION TO DUTY REFLECTED CREDIT UPON HIM AND WERE IN KEEPING WITH THE HIGHEST TRADITIONS OF THE MARINE CORPS AND THE UNITED STATES NAVAL SERVICE.
This proves I am not the only one losing his mind.

Semper Fi,
America’s 1stSgt

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How to get things done...

Brows furrowed, my battalion commander angrily punched keys as he scrolled through something that was currently giving him a migraine.

Casually I leaned against the door jamb of his office and sipped my coffee (Kona of course). “Sir, what are you working on there?”

I had put on an air of nonchalance specifically to annoy the CO, a graduate of VMI. I prefer to annoy Naval Academy graduates but I take what I can get; besides, the XO was a Naval Academy guy and his office was my next stop.

As much as I’d like to say that the CO’s response was replete with colorful expletives it just wouldn’t be true. It was packed to gills with words like “darn” and “doggone” and things of that nature though. Despite this strange vocabulary I was able glean what had disturbed him that morning. One of our companies was manning a Point Of Entry (POE) on the border with Syria which for us is pretty much the ragged edge of the universe. Their toasters had burnt their last loaf and they were also asking for some slow cookers. Any of you familiar FOB life knows that the amenities there are not what the average person would call humane and food there is only food in the sense that if you eat it you will not die.
This in and of itself was not the source of the CO’s consternation. When we had put a request in to open purchase this stuff with battalion funds the prices were ridiculously high.

In Iraq when we open purchase something we have to buy it through an Iraqi vendor. It’s the rules. Since we have to go through them first guess how much a toaster costs us in Iraq? Are you ready?...........$500, no kidding. You’ve heard of Arab Traders yes?

Furious at this, our battalion commander was scrolling through prices of these things on line making himself madder with every click of the mouse. There had to be a better way!

Enter America’s 1stSgt, leaning up against the door frame with one fist of his hip and the other wrapped around his coffee mug, smirking. I knew just what to do.

“Sir, I’ve got this. We’ll get that stuff for free. How many do we want?” I waved my hand around as if to dismiss an annoying insect. This would be no problem at all. One just had to push the right buttons:

“Dear Hope,

I’ve got a favor to ask…

…Marines starving to death in Iraq…

…would like toast with their peanut butter…


…Iraqi toaster costs $500…

...think there are enough red blooded Americans out there to help us out?


*laugh maniacally and hit SEND*

Yes, I have to admit I deliberately launched that missile right into the heart (quite literally) of my nearest mil support heroine. Every key stroke was simultaneously punching one of Hope’s buttons. I knew it would send her right over the top. Watching Hope operate her mil support connections is like watching a bunch of those Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots blast each other on the chin. It really was something. In the meantime I cackled like the mad scientist who had set events into inexorable motion.

I have rarely seen her that wound up.

Why didn’t you tell me?

I just did.

$&%#%(*%#$%#$!!!
Hope is deeply in touch with her expletives.

In the end it worked out great. Great Americans came forward and took care of their Marines and Hope orchestrated the delivery of a number of slow cookers and toasters that even now grace a couple of separate chow halls on the ragged edge of the universe.

To those who were a part of making daily life out on the POEs just a little bit brighter for some Marine way out in the desert, thanks. I always say that if we take care of the Marines then they’ll take care of the mission. I appreciate you all doing your part.

And a great big electronic pat on the back for Hope who made it happen. You also realize there would be no Castra Praetoria without her incessant nag- I mean without her dedication. She’s not a bad piece of gear.

Now everyone, back to salt mines!!!

Eer-rah!
America’s 1stSgt